(Reuters) – An Irish regulator said on Friday it had launched an investigation into Facebook Inc (FB.O) after the company announced a bug that may have exposed private photos to 6.8 million users, the latest in a string of Facebook privacy issues.
FILE PHOTO: 3D printed Facebook-logo is shown in front of the listed cyber-code in this image is 22 March 2016. REUTERS/dado Ruvic/Image/File Photo
Irish Data Protection Commission said in a statement that the examination of Facebook to determine whether he had complied with the stringent new European Union privacy rules in response to a number of breaches, including the bug that exposed private photos. The new rules entered into force in May.
Facebook representatives could not immediately be reached for comment on the probe.
The company had mentioned the issue earlier on Friday, saying that the bug had allowed about 1500 software apps to access private photos for 12 days to Sept. 25.
“We find it unfortunate that this happened,” Facebook said in a blog aimed at developers who build apps for the platform.
The problem is the latest in a series of security and privacy issues that caused complaints from users and led to an investigation by the regulators and legislators. The problems are the massive Cambridge Analytica scandal and a security breach that affected nearly 30 million users.
The company said it would send an alert through Facebook to notify users whose photos have been exposed by the last number. The warning will point them to a link where they can see if they have made use of the apps that bug allowed to take personal photos.
The incident seems at first a relatively small, but could prompt privacy regulators in Europe to begin investigation of Facebook, said Brian Wieser, an analyst at Central Research.
“We already have a lot of evidence to reinforce the idea that Facebook is messy,” he said in an e-mail, adding that the company gives priority to growth at the expense of other considerations.
George Salmon, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the new reports of errors and violations increase the probability that the government will impose new rules on Facebook business practices.
“Facebook is wise to try hard to regain the trust of its users, but all of those efforts are in vain if stories like this keep emerging,” he said.
The bug affected users who uses third-party consent to have their photos.
The company typically only grants such apps have access to photos shared on the timeline.
The bug potentially allowed developers the access to other photos, including the ones that were uploaded but not posted, as well as those shared on Marketplace and Facebook Stories, the company said.
Reporting by Angela Moon in New York, Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Padraic Halpin in Dublin; Editing by Jim Finkle, Bill Trott and Jonathan Oatis